Brookfield Elks Lodge 1510 and the Community Nutrition Network — best known locally as the provider of Meals on Wheels for the homebound elderly — have partnered to bring the Brookfield Community Café and Wellness Center to the Elks lodge, 9022 31st St., for area seniors later this fall.
According to Debbie Dolce, director of Cook County operations for Community Nutrition Network, the cafe/drop-in center is for adults 60 years and older. It will be housed in the first-floor dining room of the lodge, a longtime former restaurant space, which the Elks purchased earlier this year.
“We’re building [a center] from nothing, so the seniors have an opportunity to mold it to what they want it to be,” said Dolce. “It’s all about keeping seniors active.”
Community Nutrition Network doesn’t have a specific opening date scheduled. When it does, it’ll be open from Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and offer seniors a place where they can get a hot or cold meal, coffee, and visit with other senior citizens. In addition to food, there will be activities like bingo, exercise classes a couple of times a week, nutrition education sessions and holiday parties.
Meals are affordable — Community Nutrition Network asks a suggested donation for meals, but seniors can pay whatever they are able to afford.
“No one is turned away,” Dolce said.
Community Nutrition Network runs several cafes in the Chicago area, including one at the Pav YMCA in Berwyn. The agency formerly ran a café in Maywood but closed it recently and was looking for a spot to replace it.
At the same time, Brookfield Elks President Bob Rolewicz was looking to implement a program that fit with the organization’s pledge of service to the community. The lodge moved from Berwyn to Brookfield last spring.
The lodge’s attorney, Kathleen McCabe (sister-in-law of the late former Brookfield President Pierce McCabe), suggested reaching out to Brookfield resident Diane Slezak, who is also vice president and chief operating officer of Oak Park-based Age Options. Slezak’s organization provides grant funding to help agencies like Community Nutrition Network establish things like the community cafe for seniors.
Slezak knew Dolce was looking for a café location. The Brookfield Elks Lodge also provided an opportunity for Community Nutrition Network to consolidate a new café and a Meals on Wheels facility, which presently is housed in LaGrange.
“We’ll run the café and home-delivery program in Brookfield,” said Dolce. “Brookfield is the center of all of our distribution points for the LaGrange area.”
Rolewicz felt the partnership would be a good fit. It allows the club to rent the building during the daytime hours when the Elks aren’t using it, and Rolewicz hopes the partnership might also raise the club’s profile in Brookfield.
“It fits with our mission of helping the community and people in need,” said Rolewicz. “I think it’s good for the community and to get the Elks name out there to increase our membership, so we can do more.”
Anyone interested in finding out more information about the community café at the Elks Lodge can contact Tanya Harrison, manager of the new combined Community Nutrition Network facility at 630-460-9708.